Oh hey, bowl season is here. And Toledo, sadly, is not a part of the New Year's Six fesitivities. But then, neither is Temple. Two teams with huge expectations coming into the season, brought down unexpectedly, with nothing but a bowl game to play for. Don't tell the players this is not important.
The Toledo Rockets (9-2, 6-2 MAC) suffered a disappointing loss to Western Michigan in the final week of the season to be kept out of Detroit (and a potential New Year's Six Bowl bid,) after a year that saw them beat Arkansas and Iowa State in the non-conference slate, and thoroughly dispatched most of their opponents, thanks to a combination of explosive offense and a much-improved defense.
The Temple Owls (10-3, 6-2 American) had a terrific streak of games at the beginning of the season, especially after a nialbiter with UMass. They almost pulled off the huge upset of Notre Dame, losing by only four points in a late non-conference matchup. However, things were not meant to be for them as New Year's Six competitors, as USF beat them in-conference, and Houston and Navy gave the Owls a run for their money, with Houston eventually beating Temple in the championship game.
How To Watch:
Location: FAU Stadium (20,000) in Boca Raton, FL.
Time/Date: December 22nd at 7:00 PM.
TV/Streaming: The game will be carried on the ESPN family of networks, starting at the conclusion of the Potato Bowl on ESPN at 7:00 PM. It will be available to stream on ESPN3 or on the WatchESPN App. Both ESPN3 and the WatchESPN App are available to those with valid cable subscriptions.
Radio: ESPN will be carrying the game on radio! Here is a listing of the nationwide spread of ESPN Radio affiliates.
Players to Watch:
Phillip Ely (QB)-- After going off to a flying start in the early part of the season, Ely struggled to remain consistent down the stretch, and his ineffectiveness caused both losses for the Rockets, and nearly got him into trouble in a close loss on the road against Central Michigan. Ely, the Alabama transfer, has 2,680 yards, 28 TD's and 10 interceptions on the season, and has to compete with a tough Temple defense known for getting to the quarterback.
Cheatham Norills (DB)-- Norills started off the seaosdn slow, but quickly proved his worth down the stretch, helping to seal victories at key points for the Rockets with his speed and nose for the ball. Norills had three interceptions on the year to go with 60 tackles, and made any target for a quarterback a non-factor; Norills is an excellent cover corner that has tabulated 13 pass breakups and 16 passes defended.
Jahad Thomas (RB)-- Let's not kid ourselves. Temple of 2015 looks nothing like the Temple of 2005. Jahad Thomas, together with the rest of the Temple offense, have brought about a renaissance period not seen in Philadelphia in some time. Thomas leads the way for the Owls with 1,257 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground and 234 yards and a touchdown on 22 receptions out of the backfield. It will be kety to get him going erly against a rush defense that features two of the bigger space eaters in Orion Jones and Alan Covington.
Tyler Matakevich (LB/DE)-- All I really need to say about Matakevich is that he's a concensdus first-team All-American. But, I have to say more about him. Matakevich is the third player in team historyu to record 100+ tackles, and has played the most consecutive games in an Owl uniform. Matakevich has 126 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and five interceptions on the season. A Toledo offensive line that held Phillip Ely upright for much of the season will have a toigh time trying to stop this monster of a man on the blitz.
Betting lines: Temple is a 2.5 point favorite over Toledo, according to OddsShark.com.
Weather: According to the Weather Channel, It will be 77 degrees in Boca Raton at kickoff, with a 48% chance of precipitation; showers will clear up as the night grows later. Winds should remain steady to the northwest at 9 MPH.